Inclusive business is a private sector approach to providing goods, services, and livelihoods on a commercially viable basis, either at scale or scalable, to people at the base of the pyramid by making them part of the value chain of companies’ core business as suppliers, distributors, retailers, or customers.
Inclusive businesses expand access to goods, services, and livelihood opportunities for low-income people in commercially viable, scalable ways. These businesses provide opportunities for people living at the base of the pyramid (BOP) to step into new roles: as suppliers, as distributors, as retailers, or as customers.
An inclusive business customizes its business model to take advantage of opportunities to work with people who live at the BOP on less than $8 per day in purchasing power parity or without access to the basic goods, services, and income generation opportunities that they need.
Not only do low-income people benefit when these businesses provide greater access to basic goods, services, and livelihoods—the businesses benefit as well.
Inclusive business models are helping businesses turn underserved populations into dynamic consumer markets and diverse new sources of supply.
In the process, businesses are developing product, service, and business model innovations that have the potential to tip the scales of competitive advantage in more established markets. Inclusive businesses are providing clean water, electrical power, modern communications, health care, education, financial services, and income-generating opportunities to millions of people at levels of quality and affordability they have never experienced—if they ever had access—before.
Resources on inclusive business
- “Defining the Base of the Pyramid,” IFC
- “Inclusive Business at the Base of the Pyramid,” ADB
- “Accelerating Inclusive Business Opportunities: Business Models that Make a Difference,” IFC
- “Inclusive Business Models: Guide to the Inclusive Business Models in IFC’s Portfolio,” IFC
- “The Next 4 Billion: Market Size and Business Strategy at the Base of the Pyramid,” IFC and World Resources Institute
- “What is Inclusive Business? Briefing Note No.1,” Business Innovation Facility/Innovations Against Poverty
- “Creating Value for All: Strategies for Doing Business with the Poor,” UNDP Growing Inclusive Markets
- “Inclusive Business: Creating Value in Latin America,” WBCSD in Spanish and English
- “The Next Billions: Unleashing Business Potential in Untapped Markets,” World Economic Forum
- Inclusive Business at IFC
- IFC’s 2nd Annual Inclusive Business Leaders Forum
- “Segmenting the Base of the Pyramid,” Harvard Business Review
- “The Great Leap: Driving Innovation from the Base of the Pyramid,” MIT Sloan Management Review
- “The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid,” C.K. Prahalad
- “Tackling Barriers to Scale: From Inclusive Business Models to Inclusive Business Ecosystems,” Harvard Kennedy School
- “The Base of the Pyramid: Re-perceiving Business from the Bottom Up,” Nicole Boyer